tv CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley CBS July 18, 2014 6:30pm-7:01pm EDT
>> pelley: tonight, did russia play a role? president obama says whoever shot down flight 17 with a missile needed russian help. we know mh more about the victims tonight, including at least one u.s. citizen. mark phillips is at the crash scene in ukraine. >> the fields here are full of bodies, but this is a rash site and a war zone. getting at the truth won't be easy. >> pelley: holly williams is in gaza where israel is keeping tsup i attacks on hamas targets on the ground and in the air. carter evans is following the western wildfires. one fire alone has destroyed about 100 homes in washington state. and some thoughts on a week that saw so many innocent civilians
become casualties of war. captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with scott pelley. >> pelley: good evening. much of the news toot about plagues flight 17 crash was broken by president obama. he told us at least one u.s. citizen was among the 298 who died. he said the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile fired by a part of ukraine controlled by pro-russian rebels. these rebels are fighting to break away from ukraine, and while the president stopped short of saying the kremlin was blind the flight of the downed flight 17, list to what he said about rebels who boasted about shooting down at least three ukrainian military planes. >> a group of separatists can't shoot down military transport planes or, they claim, shoot down fighter jets without
sophisticated equipment and sphis quaitd training and that is coming from russia. >> pelley: we have a team of correspondents on this story. first, we go to mark phillips at the crash site in eastern ukraine where the reality of what has happened can be difficult to watch. >> reporter: the arguments may be raging over who did this, but there is almost nothing being done to investigate this site or to care for the remains of the victims of plagues air disaster. in a field in eastern ukraine, the wreckage and the bodies lie entangled, exposed, neglected. volunteers have been looking for victims overseen by the pro-russian rebel militias which control the area. without proper resources to affect a disaster of this scal, the local people have been spotting the bodies. you can see the little sticks with ribbons at the top -- one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine -- nine bodies lying in a field just here. and the crash scene is spread
over nine miles of countryside. there are unbearable images wherever you look. and the crash area is still not secure. people have been moving through this crime scene. a full day after a major air disaster like this, and a crash site would normally be crawling with investigators and people retrieving the bodies of the victims. the fields here are full of bodies, but this is a crash site in a war zone. getting at the truth won't be easy. the first attempt at an investigation did not go well. monitors from the osce, the european security body, had been assured of protection and unfettered access, but the rebels only allowed them a brief visit, and the plane's black box data recorders have not been produced, despite earlier rebel claims that hay had found them. osce spokesman michael
bociurkiw. >> the black box is a major piece of evidence. they're also concerned about the perimeter, to secure it to avoid tampering. >> reporter: time is critical in crash investigations and the time here is ticking away. and it is the pro-moscow rebels here under most suspicion for bringing down the plane and it is they who control the evidence. >> pelley: mark, thank you so much. the u.s. says it already has some evidence in hand and david martin learned what it is. >> reporter: a fire ball picked up by american satellites was first indication of surface-to-air missile armed with a high explosive warhead had struck the airliner. u.s. surveillance also detected a part of the missile's flight path as it streaked toward the plane allowing analysts to backtoward to the point of impact to an area on the ground at the border between ukrainian and russia most likely the ukraine within side of the
border, territory held by pro-russian rebels. analysts identified it as likely a russian made sa-11, a sophisticated system of radars, command posts and launchers. john kirby said the recials probably couldn't have operated on their own. >> it's strange to think it could be used by separatists without some measure of russian support and tech kale rinse. >> reporter: the assistance could range from training rebel missile crews in russia up to a russian personnel actually conduct ago launch that brought down the plane. earlier in the fighting the rebels proved they could shoot down lower flying transport planes and helicopters but never anything flying as high as an airliner. u.s. intelligence had known the rebels were undergoing anti-aircraft training in russia but they did not know they had somehow gotten their hands on a system as capable as the sa-11.
>> pelley: david martin at the pentagon. david, thank you. flight 17 was enroute from amsterdam to kuala lumpur. in both cities, relatives are grieving for the loved ones they lost. nearly two-thirds of the victims were dutch, dozens more malaysian. the victims came from at least eleven countries and at least one was born in the united states. here's jim axelrod. >> reporter: born to two dutch nationals, 19-year-old quinn schansman held dual american-dutch citizenship. it was left to his girlfriend of ten months to post heartbreaking facebook pictures of a beautiful young couple just getting started. facebook also provide add haunting image of another man, wife and children. the last picture, posted by the no, ma'am, kids and suitcases
curbside. nick norris, taking his grandchildren home. they had all been on vacation but& the grand-dad took the kis home early so the parents could have a few days on their own. karljin keijzer was dutch but went to school at the university of indiana where she was a top-notch rower studying for her doctor rat in chemistry. sanjid singh sandu was a 41-year-old flight attendant everyone called bobby. he wasn't scheduled to work the flight but switched shifts with a colleague. san due switched to the flight and died. his wife is also a malaysia airlines flight attendant, scheduled to work on the malaysia jet that disappeared four months ago but switched off that flight at the last minute and lived. >> pelley: jim, thanks very much. also among the victims were nearly 100 experts on aids who were heading to a medical conference in melbourne, australia. former president bill clinton will be addressing that same conference next week. mr. clinton said he was sickened
by what happened and called them martyrs to the cause in the battle against aids. more now from elizabeth palmer. >> reporter: among the men and women of science who died in this crash was a giant. joep lange, doctor and campaigner who spearheaded a push to get cheap antiviral drugs to the poor. >> he was treating the first, education -- >> reporter: his fellow researcher and friend tobias rinke de wit. >> i think we need to give a face to name these people mostly in africa and asia who were suffering from one of the biggest epidemics of all times. >> reporter: his partner in life and work was jacqueline van tongerent, traveling with him to the conference in australia. sun ding a colleague is still struggling to accept jacqueline van tongerent is gone. what will you miss most?
>> her laughter. >> reporter: do you think you will make it? it just seem very unreal even now. >> (indiscernible). >> reporter: all of the nearly 100 aids and hiv scientists and activists who lost their lives will be terribly missed but the fierce dedication of champions like joep lange lives on. >> it's going to be a hole. >> absolutely, but we will not stop. we'll fill in his legacy. this is not the end, certainly not. >> reporter: of course, the work on hiv will go on but this tragedy represents quite a setback, as one australian researcher put it, scott, what if the cure for aids was on that plane? >> pelley: liz palmer for us in amsterdam tonight, thank you, liz. president obama today said russian president vladimir putin has the power to end the
violence in ukraine. major garrett is at the white house for us tonight. major? >> reporter: scott, the white house wants to make russian president vladimir putin in the words of one top advisor "squirm" for the strategic mistake of arming separatists and using global outrage over this tragedy to deis cay late the conflict, as evidence was brought forward russian-backed rebels brought it down. >> the violence taking place is facilitated in large part because of russian support and they have the ability to move those separatists in a different direction. >> reporter: the white house will not provide more military aid to the ukrainian government arguing the region needs fewer weapons, not more and, for the moment, no new u.s. economic sanctions against russia are contemplated, either, but president obama just wrapped up a conversation with german chancellor anj angela merkel and
david's cameron to increase pressure on russia. >> pelley: we now go to the kremlin. the russians are saying don't blame us. clarissa ward in moscow. >> reporter: as u.s. officials pointed the finger at pro-russian separatists and sponsors in moscow, president vladimir putin laid the blame elsewhere. this tragedy would not have happened he said if the fighting had not been restarted in the u. russia's defense ministry went further blaming the ukrainian military. it claimed that a ukrainian buk anti-aircraft missile battery like this one had been operational in the border region, though the russians stopped short of saying there was any evidence it fired the fatal missile. russian citizens today laid flowers outside the dutch and malaysian embassies but the tragedy has put the russian government in an awkward situation. one of the military commanders of the separatists rebels in ukraine is igor girkin, a russian citizen.
earlier this week, girkin took cred for allegedly shooting down a military aircraft. a release from the government caught another commander saying they'd shot down the claim, making it more difficult. >> pelley: clarissa, you recognize the voice of the commander on the tape? >> i do, absolutely, scott, because that commander actually detained the crew in ukraine a couple of months ago. we were stopped at a checkpoint, blindfolds, held for hours, one crew member was beaten, no reason was given for the descension tension, and we were only released, apparently, scott, after a russian commander intervened and gave the order. >> pelley: clarissa, thanks very much. mike morrell has been giving us unsight into the downing of the plane. until last year.
mr. morrell was number two official at the c.i.a., now a cbs news contributor. mr. morrell, how much involvement did the russians have, in your opinion? >> there are different degrees here, scott. the first level we we're at is putin encouraged the separatists, funded them, has the equipment and trained them. if you feed the beast, you're responsible for what the beast has done, we're already there. additional possible complicity, which is did the putin and the russians give the separatists this particular weapon system and train them, and then did any russian special forces actually assist in the firing of the missile. >> pelley: how would the united states ever prove these things? >> you're not going to know from investigating the crash site. we're not going to find it that way. the only way we're going to find out is through intelligence. we could learn quickly, it may take time or we may never know. >> pelley: where does this lead vladimir putin?
>> regardless of the level of complicity, he's in a very bad place. if you think back to the soviet union's downing of the south korean aircraft in 1983, that was a turning point in the cold war. it showed the world what the soviet union was all about. that same thing could happen to putin now. >> pelley: mike morrell, formery director of the c.i.a., thanks. >> thank you, scott. >> pelley: we'll take you into day two of israel's ground invasion in gaza. and to the front lines in the battle against wildfires when the "cbs evening news" continues. dentures are very different to real teeth. they're about 10 times softer and may have surface pores where bacteria can multiply. polident kills 99.99% of odor causing bacteria and helps dissolve stains so dentures are cleaner, fresher, and brighter. [ male announcer ] polident.
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>> pelley: president obama called israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu today to talk about the risk of further escalation of the conflict of palestinians in gaza, and it is escalating. this is the second day to have the ground invasion that netanyahu ordered. holly williams is in gaza city. (blasts) >> reporter: tonight, even with troops on the ground, the israeli military continues to bombard the gaz gaza strip. israel said this is a limited offensive aimed at destroying palestinian rocket launchers as well as tunnels dug by the militants to infiltrate israeli territory. in most of the gaza strip, they haven't yet seen a single israeli soldier. in beit lahia, just a mile over the border of israel, we found
the street eerily quiet. people were told to evacuate before the invasion and many heeded. in gaza city, we arrived on the scene just after a direct hit decimated this building. but as they picked their way through the rubble, suddenly, people began to run for cover. what just had back there is that people heard a drone overheadj and, so, they panicked and ran, thinking another air strike was coming in. this whole place is really on edge today. but friday is the muslim holy day, and in a mood of defiance, many people came out to play. this conflict has raged for decades and 92-year-old mohammed omar susi told us, if he were a young man, he would fight the israelis himself.
the israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu said today he's ordered the country's military to prepare for a possible expansion of the g offensive and, tonight, scott, the gaza strip is being pummeled with air strikes and heavy caliber weapons. >> pelley: holly williams, remarkable coverage all week. thanks, holly. here at home, dozens of families have lost homes to wildfires in the west. that story's next. [ female announcer ] it's simple physics... a body at rest tends to stay at rest... while a body in motion tends to stay in motion. staying active can actually ease arthritis symptoms. but if you have arthritis, staying active can be difficult. prescription celebrex can help relieve arthritis pain so your body can stay in motion. because just one 200mg celebrex a day
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>> pelley: tonight, hot, dry winds are fanning wildfires in six western states. hundreds of families have been forced from their homes and some have no home to go back to. carter evans reports washington is among the hardest hit. >> reporter: smoke rose 25,000 feet over the largest fires burning in washington state. the fire that's destroyed 100 homes in pateros has scorched more than 168,000 acres. josh alan was turned away at a road block. >> i don't know what i'm going to do. knowing that your house is burning up. >> reporter: this fire on the eastern slopes of the cascade mountains produced a wall of flames that moved in on the town of levenworth. 900 homes were evacuated including tim germaine's. >> it looked like the caldron of
hell. flames everywhere you looked. >> reporter: across the country, 12 states are experiencing severe to extreme drought conditions. at u.s. forest service in los angeles they're juggling assets to cover areas at risk. but supervisor thomas contreras says that causes other problems. how does that impact you down here? >> it impacts me because now i have a hole where we have our assets up there, yet we want to provide the protection necessary here. we need resources from other parts of the united states to fill in our gaps. >> reporter: the last time this part of the angeles national forest got any rain was back in february and, scott, it was barely measurable. >> pelley: carter, thanks very much. today police in stockton, california, said they are hunting a fourth suspect in a deadly bank robbery. they released this image of a sedan dropping off three suspected robbers on wednesday. the robbers took three hostages and after a 45 minute chase
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a great deal of attention. but yesterday, this week stopped because one of those wars reached into the sky and grabbed 298 people who could have been anyo of us. the lives they lived lie across fields of wheat and sunflowers, so familiar, a book for tweens, a doll that was probably the most important thing in the world for someone. there were many children on board. it is a view of humanity that is only seen when it's too late. this was the limit of the vision of the missile crew, the radar fire control and a simple touch of a button. they never laid eyes on the enemy they imagined. the same has been true this week in israel in gaza. islamic militants have launched unguided rockets blindly into israel, one israeli civilian was killed, and it was true for the israeli sailors who never saw the four boys on the beach
before their long-range rockets exploded. triggers full easily when there's nothing clear in the sights. what does come into focus is our shared humanity and what struck us this week was how similar these pictures are. which is ukraine? which gaza? which one is israel? which is amsterdam? which is malaysia? the wars will continue next week, but for a day, we stopped and remembered how much greater man's reach can be than his vision. and that's the "cbs evening news" for tonight. for all of us at cbs news all around the world, i'm scott pelley. i'll see you sunday on ""60 minutes." good night.
captioning sponsored by cbs simple clouds will be on the increase and tracking -- clouds will be on the increase and tracking showers on the weekend. >> reporter: we'll tell you about the cost of rental units and why the region has a shortage of affordable housing. >> and the movement to change the redskins name gains momentum. we begin with the latest on the crash of malaysian airline flight 17, the first international investigators at the scene have not been able to get full access to the crash site. >> they did get a quick look before the armed pro russian rebels who control the area ordered them to leave using a warning shot from a rule of. i'm lesli foster. >> i'm lesli foster -- a rifle. i'm lesli foster. >> i'm jan jeffcoat.
we want to give you a quick update. first the united nations security council held an emergency meeting, ambassadors pushing for an international investigation and for officials to get full immediate access to the crash site. from white house today president obama and pro russian separatists in ukraine are likely -- say they're likely behind the blast and they've shot down other aircraft with a steady flow of support from russia. >> a group of separatists can't shoot down military transport planes or they claim shoot down fighter jets without sophisticated equipment and training and that is coming from russia. >> today we also learned there was at least one american on board flight 17, quinn chuckman, a dual citizen of the u.s. and netherlands on his way to meet his family vacationing in malaysia. now the malaysia airlines tragedy touches people across the world. most of the passengers were